Sunday, April 5, 2020

RPG Housekeeping

As I looked at the bundles available for Calidar on DriveThruRPG, the nagging feeling that they needed to be cleaned up finally convinced me to have another look at Calidar's organization. I'll attempt to show where I'm going with this. First off, the overall breakdown.

There are (so far) three distinct goups of books and poster maps.

Series 1 concerns CAL1 "In Stranger Skies," the very first Calidar Gazetteer, and accessories directly related to the Kingdom of Meryath featured in CAL1. They can be recognized by their blue color scheme.

Series 2 supports CAL2 "On Wings of Darkness," the second Calidar Gazetteer. Those feature a black color scheme.

The last category, the "X" series labeled "Outriggers," includes all other accessories not directly related to the Gazetteers. Ideally, these products should bear a purple color scheme (future retrofit?)

There will be a Series 3 focused on the elves of Alfdaín and Alorea. Its titles will be structured exactly like those in Series 2: 1 Gazetteer (CAL3), 1 Players' Guide (PG3), 1 Adventure (CA3), 2 Conversion Guides (one each for Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC, therefore CAL3a & CAL3b), plus possibly a pack of poster maps. As you might guess, this series will get a green color scheme.

CAL1 "In Stranger Skies" is the very first Gazetteer anyone new with Calidar should get. It provides an overview of the universe, the main world, and the Kingdom of Meryath which is home to the Star Phoenix, the skyship featured on the cover.

PG1 "Players' Guide to Meryath" summarizes important info from the Gazetteer for the players. It provides guidelines on how to roll up characters, and delves more deeply into Calidar's epic hero narrative, a central theme to this world. At the time of this article, PG1 is being laid out in prepress as it was added retroactively to this series. It should see print April or May 2020.

CA1 "Dreams of Aerie" is a sandbox adventure on a multi-decked flying circus providing player characters with a  mobile "home base" from which to kick off future adventures.

CA1 also offers fold-up maps available separately. DTRPG does not at this time support bundling books with fold-up posters because they are printed at different locations. Posters, cards, and fold-up maps aren't presently available from DTRPG due to Covid-19 lockdown.

CAL1a and CAL1b are Conversion Guides translating all game stats listed in CAL1, PG1, and CA1 for use with Labyrinth LordTM or OSRICTM. At the time of this article, these two books are awaiting layout work in prepress. They were added retroactively to this series. They should see print around early May 2020.

KM1 Kingdom of Meryath is a large 28" by 22" poster map. It is a limited edition printed outside DTRPG's sphere. It is available until stock runs out from the author's Facebook shop (US customers only; if outside the USA, please contact the author directly).

CAL2 "On Wings of Darkness" describes a realm of wizards and demons. Its theme covers schools of magic, a source of world magic, and of course, how to handle demons.

PG2 "Players' Guide to Caldwen" summarizes the Gazetteer's information for the players. It also features bloodlines, star signs, a new race related to demons, and a new character class of mage-knights forming an order connected with the source of world magic.

CA2 "How to Train Your Wizard" is the adventure for this series. It focuses on apprentices learning the trade of wizardry and necromancy. It provides a series of maps depicting the entire college, from dungeon to 12th floor.

CAL2a and CAL2b are Conversion Guides translating all game stats listed in CAL2, PG2, and CA2 for use with Labyrinth LordTM or OSRICTM. At the time of this article, these two books are at the printer. They should see print mid-April 2020.

CAL2 Seven Fold-Up Maps relate directly to CAL2. They display maps of Caldwen, topographic and hex styles, as well as street maps of the flying city of Arcanial and Port Arcana. DTRPG does not at this time support bundling books with fold-up posters because they are printed at different locations. Posters, cards, and fold-up maps aren't presently available from DTRPG due to Covid-19 lockdown.

CC1 "Beyond the Skies" is a massive compendium of all things divine in the world of Calidar. It describes several pantheons of gods, game mechanics on faiths among mortals, running priest and shaman characters, divine favors and punishments, beliefs of the Dread Lands, demons, demigods, avatars, life after death, the netherworld, alliances among pantheons and deities, etc. CC1 is an invaluable sourcebook affecting all Gazetteers present and future.

CAGM1 Calidar Game Mechanics is a lightweight, pay-what-you-want pamphlet defining the various terms used for game stats in Calidar books. Calidar is primarily system-neutral, which explains the existence of conversion guides.

Calidar Climates is a single fold-up sheet showing the various climates on Calidar's surface, prevailing winds and sea currents.

Soltan Ephemeris is a single fold-up sheet showing an illustration of all planets orbiting the central star, Soltan.

DTRPG does not at this time support bundling books with fold-up posters because they are printed at different locations. Posters, cards, and fold-up maps aren't presently available from DTRPG due to Covid-19 lockdown.

GC1 Great Caldera is a large 28" by 22" poster map. It is a limited edition printed outside DTRPG's sphere. It is available until stock runs out from the author's Facebook shop (US customers only; if outside the USA, please contact the author directly).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Skyship Revisited

I've continued working on the Peryton of Alfdaín (click here for the top view posted earlier), generating a side view and a cutaway version. It's been an eye opener on the matter of ship design. Let's just say, this is fantasy! I'm more interested in making sure the layout lends itself to D&D-style tactical combat. Here are a few snapshots of the latest draft. There still remains a good amount of work needed, with the rigging in particular. If your browser allows it, click on the images and open them on a separate tab to view them at full resolution.

The biggest challenge for the side view was getting a deer head that matched the one in the top view. I originally drew the head in the top view from a photo I found on the internet. The profile version was beyond my graphic skills, so I relied on Joe Garcia's talents to draft side and front projections. It worked like a charm. I added the colors, texture, and shadows. What do you think?

In the cutaway version, the illusory deer head vanishes to reveal the skyship's cockpit. Since "flight controls" aren't mechanical, the helm doesn't need to be positioned near the ship's rudder. The helm is therefore at the bow for greater visibility, unlike real-world seagoing ships but more like an aeroplane. One of the ship's organic deck weapons lies afore of the helm, pointing out through an opening at the bow (to be drafted later). The door at the cockpit's rear opens onto the main deck. The crew's head and sleeping quarters lie below, on the lower deck. The "L" tag marks the location of ladder rungs on the outer hull, allowing the crew to climb from the main deck to an open section of the lower deck (see side view).

This shows a closeup of the Peryton's midship. The door and windows connect with the lower deck's enclosed section. Ladder rungs lead up to the main deck.

The cutaway version reveals details of the cargo hatch and wooden supports for the masts. Reminder: this is a quad-masted skyship, meaning its masts are positioned in an "X" pattern, with two outrigger masts crossing through the main deck at 45 degrees, and two more below deck protruding through the lower hull at the same angle (definitely NOT seaworthy!) This is completely nuts, but hey, it's fantasy for ya! The four masts connect on the lower deck, blocking the passage. The only way past them is outside, on the main deck (as shown in the top view), or below, in the hold (as shown by the arrow.) 

The difficulty with the ship's stern lies in its rounded shape, which I could only hint at with shades in the side view. The aft castle (A & B) hangs over the lower deck (C) a bit too far, due to a miscalculation on my part when I originally drafted the top views of the various decks. It was too late to fix by the time I drafted the side view. Live and learn... The odd squarish structure at the back of the lower deck is a turret used as officers' heads.

The cutaway view reveals details of the hold (D). I had originally positioned the capstan closest to the bow, but the hold there is too narrow (10' wide or less). So I moved the whole element abaft. Calidar skyships use "air anchors" as airborne moorings. It's a bit odd, but for an airship being anchored astern shouldn't matter too much. If anything, sails can be unfurled with a convenient tailwind when lifting anchor. I'm not entirely satisfied with the capstan mechanism, which probably doesn't work as designed. I think it needs a separate axle for the anchor chain to wrap around. I may fix this later. Fortunately, because the skyship's aft section is so wide, there should be enough room to fit such a system. The hold also possesses a loading bay at its stern, a convenient feature when the vessel is moored at a docking tower.

If you ever wondered how to justify a druid character working on a skyship, fret no longer! I used the forward hold as the space for the vessel's organic "sap" stowage. Elven ships are semi-living structures that can grow deck weapons when needed. Weaponry and ship repair require a certain amount of sap, which is shown here. This spot is a weird, overgrown tangle of sticky, oozing stuff that no one but the ship's "plantmaster" should be messing with. You might have noticed the crew heads on the deck just above, which is part of the ship's onboard fertilizing ecosystem. On the smelly end of things, I now leave you to ponder the ship's design. Hope you enjoyed the preview. The final draft will be part of my present Calidar project, CAL3 "Wings over Alfdaín." 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Very Sweet Day

I had a surprise when Janet showed up with a birthday cake. Featured prominently on the front: a blue dragon. She'd mentioned to the baker that I wrote fantasy about galleons traveling the skies. It must have inspired the baker as a skyship also adorned the cake's top layer. In short: this was (I should say "is" because it'll take us days to finish) death by chocolate, with a decent butter cream and chocolate ganache. Delicious.

For the locals, the bakery is the new one downtown Burlington WI, Megan's Hopscotch Cupcakery, 212-716-0004.

I think I'll go for seconds. Yum.



Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Peryton of Mythuín

Calidar, skyship, Alfdain






























While design for the upcoming Calidar gazetteer, CAL3 Wings over Alfdaín, is proceeding, I felt the need to draft a new skyship. It's been a while since the last time I toyed with deck plans, so now seems as good a time as any other. For sure, this will have something to do with Captain Isledemer's next skyward adventure. This can obviously be retrofitted to Spelljammer without difficulty.
            I cropped the image posted above from a 12”x18” poster rendered at 600 dpi. Click on it and use your browser's enlarge function to see the full-res image. I’ll add armament, individual launches, and other deck details in the final draft. The other decks are positioned to its right and left on the original image, including the lower deck, the hold, and the aft castle (the latter covers the main deck’s stern section in the image above to give a complete “top view”). It’s the reason why parts of the sails are transparent, since they overlap adjacent floor plans.
Calidar skyship gimbal
Gimbal-like device
            The bridge is located at the fore (with a clear canopy, like in a modern airplane), concealed within an illusory deer head. This enchantment is invisible from the bridge. Though it appears like any other skyship helm, the wheel can be tilted forward and back or sideways to maneuver the ship in a 3D environment. Helm “commands” travel through the hull’s mycelium network to a large gimbal-like device located amidships, below deck. Calidar skyships hold enchantments providing lift and a movement bias along their centerlines. The gimbal controls this dweomer’s orientation, forcing the ship’s hull to progressively match its exact alignment. It’s what enables skyships to sail against the wind (like a keel on a sea-going vessel). Without it, skyships would only drift with the prevailing winds. Sails below deck also prevent the vessels from rolling over.
            Elven skyships are partially alive. Sap vesicles fitted inside their holds provide the vessels with their “life blood,” so to speak. Because of this, elven ships need to land when they run low on sap (usually at a giant tree used as docking tower and supply source). This biological feature enables various types of weapons to be grown from the deck when needed. One such device is also located on the bridge, so as to “shoot” out of the figurehead’s mouth. Theoretically, the vessel’s mycelium network enables a single crew posted at any one weapon to operate all of the others simultaneously. Although the image posted above does not show ropes and pulleys, they are nonetheless rigged to the masts, yardarms, and sails. The ship’s latent awareness helps manage the complicated sail arrangement, substantially reducing total crew numbers aboard.
            Many elven skyships feature a “quad-mast” design: two outrigger masts angled 45˚ upward, above the main deck, and two more masts at 45˚ downward, below the hull. The Peryton of Mythuín is a “double quad-masted vessel,” in other words it possesses 8 masts altogether. Her four upper masts are rigged with lateen sails. The other four have a different arrangement, which will become more obvious once I finish drafting her side and front views. If I can manage it, I’ll include one or two cutaway views as well. Those will be available in the CAL3 gazetteer and in separate (printed) poster format. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

D&D Class: Calidar Ranger

Wow Elf by Clayscence, Deviantart.com
Developing Alfdaín for Calidar's upcoming CAL3 gazetteer presents an opportunity for a different look at rangers. They are an important class in Alfdaín, but also in the Dread Lands, either for natives dwelling there or Calderan prospectors looking for Seitha.
            While some OSR games do not offer such a character class, others do but with varying abilities and approaches. The latest D&D version is probably a no-go, since it is already very detailed. Feel free to adapt or retrofit what is described here. This article addresses rangers of different settings (not just Alfdaín)with a "modular" design allowing players to build their own versions as their characters earn experience.

Advancement: Calidar’s rangers use standard warrior experience, combat, and saving throws charts from the chosen RPGs. Combat maneuvers and special abilities attributed to conventional warriors are also available to rangers. They acquire a mix of druidical and magic-user spells later in their careers.
            Their advancement chart provides two experience tracks  (see later on). Column 1 is intended for fighters with d8 base HD, such as Basic D&D. Column 2 addresses other OSR games whose warriors use d10s as their base HD, such as AD&D. Scale B can also be used for recent RPG designs, although encounter challenges should be adjusted significantly to match the combat abilities available to PCs in these games.
            In exchange for enabling special abilities and spellcasting talents, a ranger’s career progresses more slowly than a conventional warrior’s. The penalty to apply to all earned experienced is expressed in the XP column (–10% initially to –30% at the highest levels). Each of the ranger’s experience levels requires an extra 120,000 XP to advance beyond the limits of the conventional fighter’s experience progression table. Starting at level 10, these rangers only earn +2 hit points  (+3hp with AD&D game mechanics) when leveling up.

Prerequisites: The three best rolls must be allocated to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma ability scores, in any order the player chooses. The career is available to all races, provided they have a plausible backstory justifying a ranger’s career choice. Calidar's Sherandol and Meruín elves are the most-likely candidates in Alfdaín.
            Elven rangers often honor the following deities: Delathien (Sherandol, Elëan), Sphiel (Elëan), Bëlianda (Sherandol, Meruín), Durandil (Meruín), Melrenwë (Meruín, Tolarin), and more rarely Ashebai (Tolarin, especially spies, scouts, and guardians of hidden places) or Maëlrond (Sòldor, especially those who choose dragons as foes of choice). Rangers of the Dread Lands and those who do not worship gods receive their spells from the World Soul (see CC1 Beyond the Skies, pg. 206).
            In games that only consider Law vs. Chaos, ranger philosophy is typically Neutral. In games also featuring Good vs. Evil, rangers need to retain at least one Neutral component, in keeping with their druidical mindsets. In both cases, adopting a divine liege’s ethos is always acceptable, as long as the chosen god favors nature, druids, rangers, or some relevant sphere of interest.

Equipment: Rangers favor lighter armor (leather, studded leather) or armor largely made of organic materials (fibers, bones, scales, etc.) Provided they wear their favored armor (or none at all), rangers earn combat benefits: either a +2 bonus to hit with bows and single-handed swords, or fighting with two melee weapons without penalty (generally two short swords or one sword and a dagger). These benefits are interchangeable during combat. Some special abilities, when so noted, aren’t available when a ranger wears armor other than the preferred type.

Favored Settings: Although rangers initially share common spellcasting talents and special abilities, their effectiveness may vary depending on the rangers’ native environments when specified in the text. Five main settings are fleshed out in this book: Midlands, Wastelands, Frostlands, The Deep, and Diredark.
            Midlands: This setting includes primarily temperate grasslands, moors, marshes, bogs, and forests. It is the expected environment for Sherandol and Elëan elves. A Midlands choice requires selecting either temperate or tropical options; the latter focuses on hot savanna and rainforest such as may be found in the Dread Lands.
            Wastelands: It is the realm of hot deserts and low, open scrublands—generally hot and arid regions. Alfdaín does not feature this setting. Wastelands rangers are more appropriate in Narwan.
            Frostlands: This includes taiga, boreal forests, tundra, cold uplands, and permanently snowbound or frozen regions. It is one environment that mountain-dwelling Elëan favor.
            The Deep: The aquatic realm of the Meruín elves governs marine, riverine, lacustrine, and swamp settings at any latitude, from fathom to sea spray and above.
            Diredark: The euphemistic label refers to Calidar’s subterranean world. Although the Tolarin find it appealing, it is the ancestral realm of the Sòldor elves. Dwarven rangers are said to thrive in the Diredark of Araldûr.

Spellcasting: During their careers, rangers receive a mix of spells reflecting their races. Calidar elves and gnomes are magical in nature and favor secular spells. For every two magic-user spells they memorize, they can obtain one druidical incantation at the most. The opposite applies to most other races, including shamans of the Dread Lands. Dwarven rangers receive clerical spells only. The highest spell level available at any point during a ranger’s career only accommodates the race’s favored magic.
            For example: At Level 16 (13 for AD&D), a ranger’s spellcasting enables Spell Level I x5, Level II x3, Level III x1, for a total of 9 spells altogether. Therefore, the elven ranger may obtain up to 3 druidical incantations, the balance accommodating 6 magic-user spells (the Level III slot must be a magic-user spell). The exact opposite would be true for a human ranger.
            At the referee’s discretion, magic-user spells should relate to the ranger’s native environment. Basic D&D doesn't offer offer enough spell choices to support an adequate ranger’s specialization. It is suggested that magic-user spells pertaining to summoning elementals relevant to the rangers’ native environments be therefore allowed.
            For example: In the Wastelands and Diredark, rangers ought to be able to summon earth elementals, water elementals in the Deep, ice elementals in the Frostlands, or possibly air elementals for Elëan spellcasters—and so on. Low level spells can be devised to affect minor spirits of nature, such as rudimentals (see CAL2 On Wings of Darkness, pg. 68-69).
            Rangers cast magic as if they had the minimum experience level required for the highest spell level available to them. For example: at experience levels 11-15 (9-12 for AD&D), they dispatch magic-user spells as magic-users level 3 (or clerical spells as clerics level 4 in Basic D&D). Ranger magic tops out at Spell Level IV.

Ranger Advancement
Experience Scales
XP
Special Abilities
Spell Levels
d8 HD
d10 HD
I
II
III
IV
1
1
–10%
Home Advantage




2
2
3
-
4
3
Career Choice I
5
4
6
5
–15%
2
7
6
Career Choice II
2
8
-
2
9
7
3
10
8
Career Choice III
3
11
9
–20%
3
2
12
10
4
2
13
-
4
2
14
11
Career Choice IV
4
3
15
12
5
3
16
13
–25%
5
3
1
17
14
5
4
1
18
-
Career Choice V
5
4
2
19
15
6
4
2
20
16
6
5
3
21
17
–30%
6
5
3
1
22
18
Career Choice VI
6
5
3
1
23
-
6
5
4
2
24
19
6
5
4
2
25
20
6
5
4
3

Home Advantage: Rangers are adapted to their native environment and outdoor life. This grants them several special abilities.
            Survival: Rangers in their native environments are always able to find food and water sufficient to survive, given reasonable time to hunt, fish, or forage. In foreign settings, this skill requires a daily Wisdom Check with a +2 bonus. If it fails, food and water (if scarce) aren’t found during that day. Hunting and fishing are components of survival. Rangers possess an innate sense of what is safe to eat/drink in their native environments. In foreign settings, this knowledge requires an Intelligence Check with a +2 bonus. They also are immune to non-magical diseases common to their native environments. In foreign settings, this resistance requires a weekly Constitution Check with a +2 bonus.
            Pathfinding: Unless magic is involved, rangers in their native environment always sense where they are relative to their destination (if known) or to where they started out. Pathfinding also applies to rangers of the Deep navigating the seas. While they travel in foreign settings, this sense requires a daily Intelligence Check with a +2 bonus.
            Tracking: In their native environments, rangers should receive a substantial bonus to their tracking skills, as appropriate to the chosen RPG mechanics and at the referee’s discretion. The suggested bonus is +30% to percentile scores to succeed, or +6 on a d20 scale. Halve this bonus in foreign settings. One daily tracking check is generally sufficient unless conditions change (different terrain, intersection with other tracks, rain, etc.) As long as previous tracking checks succeeded, rangers receive a +10% bonus (+2 on a d20 scale) to the next roll. Using a trained dog (see Trainer Career Choice) bestows another +50% bonus (+10 on a d20 scale).

Career Choices: From this point onward, all other special abilities are part of optional career choices. There are 8 career options: Exemplar, Explorer, Messenger, Prowler, Scout, Stalker, Trainer, and Witcher. Each of these career choices provides multiple abilities, improvements, or benefits.
            New career choices can be picked in any order as the ranger earns experience. None can be picked more than once. The order in which careers are selected, therefore, makes rangers stand apart from each other. Once selected, career choices cannot be changed; more are available than can be acquired during the entire course of a ranger’s career.

Exemplar: Exemplars earn three improvements picked from the following list. The same options cannot be picked more than once. Another can be picked with each career choice earned henceforth. There are more improvements options than can possibly be picked during the exemplar’s entire career.
·   Ability Scores: Add +2 to the three lowest ability scores, or +1 to the three best (scores above normal maximums are valid only with the referee’s approval).
·   Armor Class: Improve AC +2 permanently.
·   Defense Checks: Add a +2 bonus to the three lowest saving throw scores, or +1 to the three best.
·   Excellence: Once a day, when rolling dice for any reason, roll three times and keep the best score.
·   Experience: Subtract 10 from the exemplar’s current and future XP penalties (thus –15% becomes –5%).
·   Life Points: Add +1 hit point for each current Hit Die and when earning new ones.
·   Notoriety I: Monsters above animal intelligence and with HD below the exemplars’ suffer a penalty to their Morale Checks (–1 on a d12 scale, –2 on a d20 scale, or –10 on a percentile scale).
·   Notoriety II: Add +1 Notoriety Point whenever the referee awards any to the exemplar.
·   Regeneration: The exemplar regenerates 1 hit point per day, and can only ever be killed if decapitated, burned entirely, or devoured.
·   Temerity: The exemplar is immune to magical fear.

Explorer: This career choice governs movement and traveling.
            Unhindered Movement: Explorers in their natural environment are not subject to movement penalties related to flora or terrain. They also receive a saving throw against magic manipulating flora or terrain when none is normally permitted, or a +2 bonus to the roll. Thorns and natural sharp features do not inflict damage to explorers. Insects and other small pests in any setting keep away as well.
            Trackless Movement: If they so choose, explorers in their native environment can travel on foot without leaving a trace of their passage. Explorers in a foreign setting can be tracked, but with a substantial penalty (–30% to percentile scores to succeed, or –6 on a d20 scale).
            Sure-Footing: In their natural environment, explorers can dispense with Dex Checks when moving through challenging terrain, such as tree branches through a forest canopy, a frozen surface, yardarms and decks of a skyship or a naval vessel during a storm, unstable or slippery rocks, etc. In foreign settings, Dex Checks receive a +2 bonus. When earning any subsequent career choice, explorers can safely step past semi-liquid or fragile surfaces, such as quicksand, thin ice, a snow bridge, rotten wood, etc.
            Land Striding: Whether on foot or riding mounts (flying, in the case of Elëan elves, or if riding flying mounts), explorers increase their normal daily travel distances by +30%. This does not include mechanical or magical devices (flying carpets or vehicles). Halve this bonus if in a foreign setting or if travelling with other character classes.
            Vanishing: When earning any subsequent career choice, explorers can teleport 30’ away once a day. Depending on their native environment, vanishing produces a short-lived whirl of harmless fog, leaves, dust, sand, ice, sea surf, or a cloud of ink if under water. Each additional career choice earned henceforth adds another use of this power the same day and extends its range +30’.

Messenger: This competence focuses on communication.
            Hidden Signals: Messengers leave seemingly innocuous markers on their paths for fellow rangers to notice. These include rocks, twigs, or bones set in specific patterns, or marks etched in a tree’s bark or in the dirt, conveying simple phrases up to five words.
            Silent Communication: With direct eye-contact between each other, rangers can exchange similar messages. Sign language is a given. More discreetly, they also use glances, eye movement, slight facial expressions, and nearly imperceptible head or body movements. Without direct eye contact but within earshot, messengers rely on animal mimicry and various imitations of the sounds of nature. When earning any subsequent career choice, a ranger also acquires the ability to use ultrasounds, such as that produced by bats or whales, to communicate with messengers able to hear them. Limited to 30’ per earned career choice (300’ for messengers of the Deep), it enables perception other than visual and can be used during combat. Echo-location can be magically silenced.
            Long Range Messages: They depend on local culture, such as smoke signals or drums. Rangers can also use an empathic connection with common animals to carry messages (birds, bats, rats, lizards, felines, foxes, fish, seals, etc.). Empathy conveys where and to whom to deliver them. They can be written or purely “empathic,” for another ranger or a druid to sense (treat as Hidden Signals). Animals rarely enter buildings or dungeons, hiding outside instead until contact can be established safely. They return to wildlife after completing their deeds.
            Rangers of the same native environment can decipher all these types of messages and signals. Those from foreign settings require an Intelligence Check.

Prowler: Stealth lies at the heart of this career choice. In any setting, a prowler wearing favored armor (or none at all) can move silently like a thief with equal experience. Prowlers also are adepts at camouflaging/concealing themselves or a small area.
            Personal Concealment: Using either foliage or cloaks made to appear like the local terrain (sand, rock, or snow) prowlers can hide in plain sight. Whether prowlers are in their native environment or a foreign setting, any ranger with the Scout career choice may spot them with the usual roll of 1-2 on a d6 if within 120’ (see Scout description). Other observers can only spot prowlers hiding in a foreign setting with a roll of 1 on a d6, when within 120’ and searching intentionally for hidden foes. Any observer can see a hidden prowler within 10’.
            Area Concealment: Prowlers can camouflage an area with enough time to prepare, taking an hour for every 100 sq. ft. to conceal. Discovery odds are the same as above, although the distance from which the hidden area can be spotted increases +30’ for every 100 sq. ft. concealed. For example: a 400 sq. ft. campsite might be seen from as far away as (30 x 4) + 120 = 240’. Any observer within 30’ of its closest edge can see a hidden area.
            Other Considerations: Only roll once for the observer closest to a hidden prowler (or the one with the best spotting chance). An additional roll with a +1 bonus should take place in any combat action during which prowlers perform one or more ranged attacks or cast offensive spells. This bonus enables an observer otherwise-unable to detect prowlers in their native environment to spot them with a 1 on a d6. Prowlers moving faster than MV 10’ or performing melee attacks always betray their hidden positions. Camouflage cannot be dispelled, but the right magic can reveal concealed prowlers nonetheless.
            Upgrade the die rolled for detection whenever the prowler earns any subsequent career choice (d8, d10, d12, etc.) For example: with “Prowler” as a first pick, the d6 can be upgraded all the way to percentile dice when reaching Career Choice VI. Using the same scheme, a rival ranger with the Scouting career choice can downgrade the die to a d4 at best.

Scout: This competence concerns perception.
            Cunning: The ranger senses hidden foes, impending ambushes, concealed paths, and traps within a 120’ range outdoors. Conscious detection requires a roll of 1-2 on a d6 (fortuitous detection occurs with a score of 1). The referee performs a secret check once for each of the applicable instances. Magical concealments including invisible foes can be sensed but not located. Add +40’ to the detection range whenever any subsequent career choice is earned.
            Long Sight: Scouts (including those of the Deep when navigating on the surface) possess unusually sharp vision enabling them to spot man-size, ground-level features approximately 3 miles away, or up to 6 miles away from an elevation. If well above the horizon, large monsters and skyships can be spotted up to 12 miles away. The line of sight should be unobstructed, the weather clear, and the observed feature in full daylight. Distances are halved by moonlight (reverse daylight/moonlight ranges for scouts of the Diredark). Scout acuity enables general identification (race, tribe, mounts, numbers, type of monster, skyship style, speed/heading, etc.)
            Hearken: Scouts can hear noise as a thief with equal experience. This also includes placing one’s ear to the ground to interpret unusual vibrations up to a mile away—footfalls, the pounding of hooves, or the gait of a large monster. A successful ear-to-ground check should identify the nature of the sounds (what, how large, how many, how far, what direction, biped/quadruped/other, machinery, waterfall, etc.)
            Weather Sense: It enables rangers in their native environments to predict shifting conditions for the next 12 hours, unless magic is involved. In foreign settings, the prediction holds for 6 hours. This includes sensing likely wind or temperature shifts, coming dust storms in deserts, developing blizzards or mountain storms, a nascent gale brooding at sea, etc., how soon they might occur, and how severe a change may be. Diredark scouts perceive instead slight air currents indicating the location of exits, shafts, or large caves, and smells associated to life in the depths, dwellings, lairs, or the nearby presence of subterranean rivers and lakes.

Stalker: The stalkers’ goal is to hunt down specific prey.
            They select a monster type as a foe of choice (giants, lycanthropes, ogres, orcs, trolls, dragons, etc. as deemed appropriate by the referee) or take on the role of bounty hunter. The latter targets any and all individuals for whom rewards have been posted by local authorities. Bounty-hunting stalkers must positively identify targeted individuals for any of them to qualify as foes of choice. Targeted monsters must be of a type dwelling in the stalkers’ native environments. They can also add another foe of choice whenever any subsequent career choice is earned, therefore up to six at the most.
            Against these opponents, stalkers receive either a +4 bonus to hit or an extra attack. These bonuses can be freely switched during combat, after declaring the decision to do so and before rolling attacks. Stalkers receive a +10% bonus (or +2 on a d20 scale) when tracking foes of choice. With successful rolls, stalkers also sense the general direction of their quarries’ locations at the time of the checks and whether they are present within 360’.
            Stalkers also understand their chosen monsters’ languages, cultures, and traditions, if any. If tracking foes of choice succeeds, stalkers can identify their types, sizes, numbers, and how old footprints are.

Trainer: Animal and monster companions are the focal point.
            Natural Empathy: Trainers sense the mindsets of animals they can see. One connection can then be established enabling a trainer to look and listen through the animal’s normal senses. This link is severed beyond 300’, although the range extends another 300’ with any career choice earned from this point onward.
            Connected animals cooperate within the limits of their intelligence if the trainer succeeds a Charisma Check. They can be made to watch over a sleeping party, for example. Cha Checks incur a –4 penalty if the animal is uncommon to the trainer’s native environment, a dangerous predator (wolves, large felines, bears, sharks, anacondas, eagles, crocodiles), or possesses half as many HD as the trainer. Magically charmed animals, giant versions of animals, and most monsters (see Monstrous Affinity later) are impervious.
            Animal Husbandry: With adequate time and effort, animals can be tamed and trained to obey simple commands (subject to the initial Charisma Check). Natural empathy is maintained with all personally trained animals, beyond the range described earlier. This ability also grants a +2 bonus to Dex Checks when riding a personally trained mount. Use the chosen RPG’s mechanics on training animals.
            Familiars: Trained animals can become their master’s permanent and loyal companions, fully able to communicate. Trainers can possess no more than one familiar per earned career choice (therefore up to 6 at best). Use the chosen RPG’s mechanics on familiars.
            Monstrous Affinity: When earning any other career choice, an affinity emerges with giant versions of animals and animal-intelligence monsters with fewer than half the trainer’s HD (round down). Successful Charisma Checks at –4 establish empathic connections to begin training, as described earlier. Only one such creature can be made into a familiar at any given time, regardless of experience and later career choices. A familiar trained at a young age may “outgrow” its master, at which point the bond is forfeit and the beast may depart.
            Undead, non-intelligent (or above animal intelligence), low-life, alien, outer-planar, elemental, mechanical, enchanted, lycanthropic, non-corporeal, and spell-casting monsters are immune unless approved by the referee and with plausible circumstances justifying the association. If in its best interest, a sapient monster can decide of its own free will to join a ranger (former familiars in particular), and it may change its mind at any time.

Witcher: Spellcasting and slaying monsters are the witcher’s strong points. Scout and stalker career choices, however, are prerequisites for the witcher.
            Charms: The witcher is immune to charms and can, once a day, dispel charm effects affecting an animal, monster, or a person.
            Polyvalence: The balance of druidical versus magic-user spells is no longer in effect. The witcher freely selects druidical and magic-user spells among those available.
            Vital Magic: Druidical spells can be cast beyond normal limits in exchange for sacrificing hit points, at the rate of 2d4+2 magical damage per Spell Level. Using the same method, the witcher may heal wounds on others, sustaining 2d4+2 damage for each d8 hit points cured.
            Eldritch Strike: This form of attack may be invoked once per day. It requires a silver blade and uses the stalker’s single attack with +4 bonus to hit vs. foes of choice (see Stalker Career Choice earlier). If this attack hits, the witcher immediately gets another with a +3 bonus, the next one at +2, and so on until the bonus is reduced to zero or an attack misses. Reroll critical fails and damage scores below average. The +4 bonus is negated for the remainder of the day after invoking an eldritch strike.